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BCRAGD: County remains in extreme drought

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

Map courtesy US Drought Monitor
The most recent drought report from the Texas Water Development Board shows most of Bandera County remaining in extreme drought conditions.

It wasn't news to anyone in attendance, but Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District General Manager Dave Mauk had to announce it, "We remain in extreme drought throughout the county. We continue to urge people to conserve water." Mauk made the pronouncement at the district's quarterly board meeting, held Thursday, April 9.
During his quarterly report to his board, Mauk noted continuing evidence of those severe drought conditions. While the Middle Trinity aquifer is up three feet, the Lower Trinity is down 3.5 feet, and the Plateau Edwards aquifer in the far northwest corner of the county is merely holding steady. Those relatively good numbers may be the result of continued conservation efforts on the part of the public, cooler temperatures, and enough light rainfall to limit the need for irrigation of lawns, gardens and fields.
Rainfall ahead of front moving through Friday morning, April 10, dropped amounts up to one-half inch a day through April 11, with trace amounts being recorded through April 12 across Bandera County. Enough to green up the pastures, but not putting a dent in low stream flows or an almost dry Medina Lake.
The large cone of depression around the City of Bandera has unfortunately been joined by a smaller cone that has recently begun formation to the southeast of the city in the area of Latigo Ranch off of Highway 46. "We'll be keeping an eye on that area," Mauk said.
Mauk reported that 26 new domestic wells were drilled in the quarter, compared to 15 last year. Some of those were completely new wells, but some were wells drilled deeper than existing wells.
The district plugged one well during the quarter. This on-going program plugs abandoned wells as the district has time and resources. Residents who may have an abandoned well on their property should contact the district to arrange for plugging. Abandoned wells can prove to be opportunities for contamination of ground water and should be sealed.
Five geophysical logs were conducted during the quarter. District scientists conducted 38 mineral tests and 43 bacteria tests on public water supplies. As part of the Texas Clean Rivers Program, staffers continued regular in-house sampling, but found no "serious e coli concerns," Mauk said.
The GM was happy to report that San Antonio Water Supply (SAWS) and Lake Medina Conservation Society (LAMCOS) worked with the district in cleaning up a perennial dump site on Simmons Road in Lakehills. The district will post "Dumping is Illegal" signs in the area and monitor the site.
The district's scientific staff continues to collect data for various studies and reports, including the Individual ASR Concept project. Staffers work with Schreiner University on a program to encourage girls to participate and excel in STEM courses. They also visit local schools to share information about conservation and water resources.
"We're now working with USGS on their flood inundation mapping," Mauk told the board. "They've never brought that program this far south before, but we have the river gauges and the LIDAR mapping they need, so they're excited about it."
The LIDAR mapping is also being used to establish accurate elevation lines for the county, which the district hopes to be able to post on their website eventually. That service will help landowners accurately gauge where flood waters might reach. It is already providing more accurate locations for the district's monitor wells and will allow the district to keep track of outbreaks of the invasive species Arundo donax.
The district's Annual Report 2015 is completed and available to anyone who would like a copy, either digitally or hard copy. Contact the BCRAGD office if you want a copy. Digital copies are less expensive.